Networking…it can either be the most powerful part of building your business or it can be your biggest time waster! Becoming more purposeful in one’s networking efforts is crucial. Here is a useful system to try.
Prior to even stepping into any event or networking situation, identify who you want to network with. Who are they? How do they dress? What do they drive? How can they help you? Once identified, you will be more successful in networking with the right people and engaging them in a long term, fruitful relationship. The next step is to share a few meaningful snippets from your business that will impress and set you apart from your competition.
Do not start flinging your business card around! I know it’s counterintuitive but this is crucial! Ask for their info and set a time to follow up, and make sure you do so at the exact time you said you would. At this point you should set a face to face, one on one meeting. This is where you really build trust and rapport! Be prepared and understand your needs so people can connect you and help you in your journey. For some people giving is easier than taking and for others taking is easy and giving is impossible. Successful business networking is a give-and-take. Give referrals, make introductions and help others. Be open to accepting the help of others without feeling guilty of accepting. This and helping others without feeling resentful when you give but don’t get back as expected is the key to successful networking, building confidence that business networking is a viable key to growth.
After the meeting, take time to connect to this person on social media. This will synergize your relationship. Also send a handwritten note. Add this person to your database and schedule your follow-up. Some ideas for follow up are: newsletters, client and ally appreciation events, face to face meetings, calls, birthday cards, etc. Just be sure to stay in touch so you stay top of mind!
-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”